Authors are only half of the equation that makes a novel successful, readers and the affect our work has on them, is the other half. We must never forget that latter half and it's importance. This doesn't mean you have to write your novel differently but it does mean you have to be prepared. Not everyone will love your work, in fact some will hate it. Count on that and accept it now that way it doesn't break your heart when it happens. We can't please everyone and we shouldn't try.
Readers buy your book because something about it sparks their interest. They keep reading your book~and hopefully buy your future books~because they connect with it on some kind of emotional level. Before you ask, yes this goes for men as well. Excitement is an emotion, just not a warm and fuzzy one. That emotional connection is the thing you need to keep in mind when you're writing your novel. Ask yourself if you've engaged the reader by evoking emotion. Good characters development, suspense, excitement, these are all ways to make that connection with the reader.
The connection can be positive or negative. The reader might love it so much that they become a loyal fan and end up buying every book you ever write. On the other hand, they might thrown the book across the room, curse at it, then come back for more. Then there's always the chance that they might truly hate it. If this happens try to remember that however negative, you did evoke an emotional response from them, therefore you did what you set out to do.
This has recently happened to an author in the young adult community, Laurie Halse Anderson regarding her novel Speak. The negative reaction to this novel saddens me deeply because someone is now trying to get it banned. This is a book about a young girl who speaks out after she is raped. Such a thing should not be silenced. The good news is the young adult reading/writing community is coming together to spread the word. Don't be silent and don't encourage others to be. I'm buying Speak and making sure every woman and girl I love get's a copy as well. See, an emotional connection.
Stop by the Scribe Sisters blog tomorrow to enter for a chance to win Speak.